How do you publish an e-book and why would you do it?

Those were the questions I was asked by my agent.  I told her about the e-book and my concerns about having a script out for acceptance to publishers.

She had no concerns about any conflict of interest, but was perplexed about the advantages of self-publishing an e-book and selling it on Amazon versus having it in printed form.  To be fair, it is far easier for me to self-publish a printed book than probably most.  A company that specializes in printing self-published books is just across the bridge from me, not ten miles away.  I could physically be there to check every step of the process if I wanted to.

So why an e-book then?  The short answer is costs.  It costs so much less to build an e-book than it is to build a physical one.  To create a paper bound book you have to write the book, format it to the pages in the way you want it presented, pick out the type of paper it will be printed on, decide if you can afford to have it printed in hard cover or soft, consider the cost of ink if your book has prints or pictures (as this one will), and then have to figure out how to get the book stores to carry it as well as put it up on Amazon for sale.  Creating an e-book is much simpler.  Write the book, create a cover, save it as a PDF, and then put it on Amazon.

I picked Amazon just because they are the most known online shopping source.  With the largest reach of people it makes sense to go with them.  Some would argue that they’ve done quite well making their own web page for their e-book and marketing it themselves.  I have no argument with that.  If that’s the way you feel is best for you, I say go for it!  I just want to write the book and get it out there.  I don’t want to be stuck working on broken codes or accidental inputs of web design when I can have smart, accomplished people doing all that for me.  Besides, Amazon makes it simple as can be.  They even have a page showing you how to do it.  I found all this in a two minute search.

If you want to make your e-book available to more than just Kindle, I’m sure there are site to help.  (I’d also bet that you’ll still be able to sell those formats on Amazon as well.)

With this knowledge I am even more excited about creating an e-book.  But I am now enjoying the fact that I’ll be doing an experiment that will help out my fellow writers and give substantive feedback on e-publishing and sales to my agent.  That makes it more fun.

Thoughts of: Christmas ideas.

With Christmas shopping in full swing I figured I’d throw out a few items that have inspired me or helped me on my adventures.

First is the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. LeGuin.  Puffin books takes the first four books and puts them in one binding to bring you the meat of the series. Adventure, growth, pain, understanding, knowledge, love, it’s all there.  This is a great series to get your adventure juices flowing.

My second book choice is “Wind Drinker” by Jefferson Spivey.  It’s an autobiography about his idea, and then adventure, of crossing the United States from L.A. to New York on a borrowed horse.

If you’re looking for adventure mixed in with hilarity, check out “Florida Cow Hunter:  The Life and Times of Bone Mizell”.  The book is crammed with unbelievable and outrageous adventures of a cattleman in the wilds of South West… Florida.

Looking for something a little more modern?  Follow Gary and Monica Wescott as they discover Iceland in their modified Ford pickup truck.  Having just finished a winter’s expedition through Siberia, this DVD gives you a great adventure presented in the old National Geographic style.

The last item on my list is Road Runner magazine.  It’s a motorcycle touring magazine, but it is so full of useful information and great destinations that anyone who has the itch to travel needs to look at it.  Every article has all the travel research done for you.  Where to go; what to do, what to see; and where to stay.  There’s even maps on the back and GPS coordinates to make your trip even easier.

So her are some suggestions for you to think about.  I own every one listed nd enjoy them.  If they interest you, great!  Click on the picture and it will send you to their website or Amazon so you can order it.  If you don’t like them, that’s ok.  I’ll be back to my regular posts tomorrow.  Also, don’t think I’m doing this for profit.  I have no monetary gains in this.  There is no affiliate link or any other kickback.  These are just items that I enjoy and felt you might be interested in.  Well all have that someone who is hard to shop for.  Maybe one of these items will be a good choice.






Thoughts: Lost in the Amazon and Boot Hill

Amazon is a dangerous thing.

If you go there you will find yourself lost in a time-displacement continuum searching for some lost relic of the past.

That’s where I found myself over the weekend.  With the flip of the calendar, I found myself only two months left on the dreaded Christmas list.  My list was small. I hadn’t edited it since June and even then, I just had a smattering of things on it.

So I looked to bulk it up.

I threw a few magazine subscriptions in; roughly five movies on DVD; a calendar; some guitar stuff I might use once and forget about; a couple books; and a bunch of music downloads. (Did you know that Minnie Driver made an album and is a good singer?)

That being done, I started to browse.  I don’t know about you, but I have this little evil side of me that loves to look for outrageously priced things to throw on my wish list just to shock the heck out of anyone looking at it.  (Plus, someone might be drunk enough to actually buy it for me. –Nah.) So I immediately went to Overland Journal.  It’s a five or six issue subscription to a travel magazine that costs $100. I don’t know about you, but $5 to $20 for a magazine seems outrageous to me.  Then I looked for a few DVDs that weren’t listed on Amazon.  (Got to go to their own website to order them.  Not good when you want to list them.)

And then I fell into the black hole.

I tripped into my past and looked up Boot Hill by TSR.

For those who haven’t heard of it, Boot Hill is a role playing game (RPG) made in the 80’s.  Think Dungeons & Dragons but with cowboys and outlaws instead of knights and orcs.  I’ve seen used versions go for $70 which is why I wanted to put it on the list.  That would send the viewer’s reeling.  But then I got hit with the shock instead.  Along with the used and collectable versions listed, there was one marked new. The person or company owning it is asking $1,255.58!  Let me say that again they are asking One Thousand, Two Hundred, Fifty Five Dollars and Fifty Eight cents; not counting tax; for a game that cost $20 when it came out!  The damn thing wasn’t even that good.  TSR made roughly five or ten modules or adventures for the damn thing.  It was a huge flop in the RPG world.  Hell, even Gamma World was more popular that it.

My mind triggered, I had to go in search of a more reasonable replacement.  I know for a fact that other companies made what I call pocket RPGs, minor games that came in a plastic case roughly the size of a novel so you could take them with you.  Well, not knowing the company that made them, I stated my search engines.  Before I knew it, I was linking through all sorts of unfamiliar websites in a search to find any pocket RPG that I remembered.  Hours later, I was fruitless in my search.  I did find some full sized western games, but they were also no longer in print, leaving me to think that there must be a curse on all western games.

Frustrated, there was only one thing left to do.  My mind set on the path to make its own.  I have no idea why.  It’s not like I would actually play the thing. Everyone I played with decades ago now live in various states, scattered across the country.  All I knew is that I had to do this.  My mind was so focused on it that I had to force myself to go to sleep that night. Rest offered no reprieve though. The very next morning I was up and writing down the basics of the game. It was all too familiar.  The stats, the classes, the roles, the movements, the abilities, the options.  It all flowed from my pen so easy.  Four hours later, I had eleven pages down and a good framework started and multiple ideas for various adventures.  The purge helped.  After writing  all that, my mind started to notice my surroundings again.  I could once more go on my way and enjoy the rest of my weekend.

I don’t know if I’ll jump back to my game building again, or get caught up in its web once more, but be warned!  Stay away from Amazon as long as you can, for you too could find yourself caught in its gravitational pull of curiosities and forgotten memories; losing time in hour long chunks.

Tread carefully!

Thoughts of: Wither the writer?

“The book is dead!”

How many times have we heard that one before?  Or what about, “The book store is dead”?  Given the death of Borders, some would say yes.  To both I vehemently disagree.

What we are witness to is not a death, but a birth or rebirth of creativity through technology.

Let’s look to the past and see how long we’ve been following this path without even knowing it.

At the very beginning there was no set form of written language.  Pictograms were used to express ideas.  When someone wanted to express themselves to a large audience, they would post these pictograms in a high visibility section of the village or town.

When the written word was established, it was kept in seclusion to royalty, high priests, and wealthy marketers.  They worked, wrote, and read in their groups to help out their common good.  They hired artisans to carve out more refined versions of the pictograms on the sides of buildings to announce their viewpoint to the people.

Soon after there were rabbis, clerics and priests working day and night in creating Bibles, Torahs, and Qur’ans for the various churches.  These were usually chained up and locked away from general viewing.

Then the big break came with the printing press.  With this invention it was now cheap and easy to mass produce the written word.  Soon after, the jobs of pictogram artists and hand-scribes were no longer necessary.  Many artisans soon found themselves without work.

The next change was a subtle, but strong one.  Costs of paper and mass production dropped.  With this came the ability to offer books, papers, and magazines in a myriad of subjects and sizes.   This is the world that most grew up with and has left an indelible print on both our psyche’ and our economic structure.  This era gave us the dime novels, daily newspapers, magazines, coffee table books, small book store chains, large book store chains, used book stores, agents, editors, marketers…  the list goes on and on.  (Typewriters and computers have also sped the change by giving the writer the ability to churn out more works at a quicker pace.)

And now we’ve entered an era as large and dramatic as the last two combined.  The internet and the e-reader have changed the writing landscape like never before.  Writers everywhere now have not only the ability to write whatever they desire, but they now have the ability to put these works in multiple formats at the same time with little or no cost.

They also have the benefit of reaching out to their targeted audience worldwide through various social networks, forums, search engines, ad links, and word tags.

A case in point:  Stephen King wrote that his first novel, “Carrie” sold 500 copies when he came onto the established writing scene, and that the sales were that high only because of a large commercial “blitz” by the local radio channels.

Today we can advertise ourselves through Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Stumble Upon, and reach prospective buyers in numbers unimaginable just two years ago.

We have the choice of going the tradition route of finding an agent and running the gauntlet of publishers in the search to find the one that fits our writing style.  Or we can set it up as a PDF or e-reader file, publish it ourselves in print form if we choose, and sell it online through Amazon or through small stand-alone book stores or both.  The choice is ours.

Writers will not wither in this new era, but will thrive and multiply like never before!

But what about books and book stores?  Will they survive the onslaught of technology and the change of people’s perspective on books and stores in general?  Yes, but not in the way they are now.  There will always be a market for bound books.  Especially for the classics. The market will just get smaller.  What I predict you will see is not just a shift to e-reader style books, but a change in e-reading devices themselves.  Imagine a sheet of plastic about the size of a sheet of printer paper or maybe half that size.  You touch one corner and it self illuminates to show you the print and photos you choose.  Now imagine that this preprogramed e-reader costs roughly $10.00 and is recyclable.  Science fiction?  They have already shown the prototype at the 2012 Consumer Electron Show.  This along with the download files will be the new standard in reading material.  Something you can enjoy and take with you to the bathroom without fear of a costly mistake.

Not only is this wonderful for the new frontiersman writers, but this is a fantastic tool for the established print media.

If you run a magazine like, Car and Driver, Wooden Boat, Handyman, Discovery, Time, and anything else; you will have the capability of putting all the forms of media into one inexpensive and highly portable object.

Let’s use Car and Driver as an example.  When you buy their magazine today, you get a printed story in two columns with a smattering of pictures.  Now imagine this same magazine on one sheet of polymer/jell film that not only has the story in columns, but has an embedded MP-3 file for each article that plays just like a podcast.  The pictures are no longer pictures, but still of short videos showing you the dynamics of the testing procedure of the product; interviews of an engineer, CEO, or designer; or snippets of the exotic location they are at this month.

This same pattern could be used on any magazine or newspaper in print today.

This same pattern could be used by any blogger out in cyberspace.

And what of the book stores themselves?  How will they fare?  They will survive, but they will be smaller.  There will be no reason for the big box style stores when the media product itself will be so small and compact.  Printed books will almost be a special order except for a point of display section set up for romantic nostalgia.  The book store will become more of a social place.  A non-alcoholic bar were people get together for book clubs, social or political exchange, role-play gaming, and general communicating. People are social creatures and we desire comfortable places to gather.  This will never change.

So wither the writer?  Nay.  The writer thrives!